WikiLeaks founder Assange says he has 3 months to appeal United Kingdom ruling


A British judge upheld [ruling, PDF] an arrest warrant for Julian Assange, who has spent more than five years hiding inside Ecuador's embassy [WP report] in London.

The legal push was the latest attempt by Mr Assange to leave the embassy.

In a stinging attack on Mr Assange, she said he appeared to "consider himself above the normal rules of law".

Assange said he is surprised at the ruling.

In a severe blow to Mr Assange, 46, who is now holed up in Ecuador's London embassy, has been told by a judge he should face the charges against him.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said previous year that Assange's arrest was a "priority".

Judge Emma Arbuthnot rejected arguments by Mr Assange's lawyers that it is no longer in the public interest to arrest him for jumping bail in 2012 and seeking shelter in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden.

"He is a man who wants to impose his terms on the course of justice".

Mr Assange - whose organisation has published confidential documents relating to the USA intelligence services - is the subject of a "very serious criminal investigation" in the United States, officials have previously admitted.

Assange's supporters regard him as a champion of free speech who has exposed government abuses of power at great personal cost. "This seems to have led to many factual errors in the judgment", he tweeted.

In December, Assange was granted Ecuadorean citizenship after applying for it months earlier.

Sweden dropped its investigation past year, but the British warrant for his arrest for jumping bail remains, meaning he would be detained as soon as he steps outside.

There is no public record or evidence demonstrating any US criminal charges are pending against Assange, but he and his supporters believe USA prosecutors could have a sealed, therefore secret, indictment against him.

While the U.S. Justice Department, during former U.S. President Barack Obama, declared that WikiLeaks was similar to a media organization and its prosecution would be inappropriate, and current U.S. President Donald Trump said during a campaign rally, "I love WikiLeaks", a Justice Department official confirmed to Reuters that an investigation into the organization was still open in the state of Virginia. "He should have the courage to do the same", said the judge, The Guardian reported.

Assange's lawyers had argued that the warrant should be withdrawn for numerous reasons, including the fact that Sweden was no longer seeking extradition and that arresting him would not be in the public interest or proportionate- noting his six years in the embassy were "adequate, if note severe" enough punishment- citing the United Nations panel ruling that his detention was "arbitrary".

The court heard that the 46-year-old was suffering from a bad tooth, a frozen shoulder and depression.

The judge rejected those arguments, saying conditions in the embassy were much better than in prison.

Robinson said Assange's case was a test for the freedom of the press to publish.

Though she accepted that Assange is depressed and deprived of sunlight inside the embassy, the judge also noted that medical reports show Assange to be in "relatively good physical health".